Understanding Medical Conditions In Adults With Hearing Loss
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Hearing loss could occur at any age. As you get older, many factors can contribute to hearing loss. It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between age-related hearing loss and the ones that occur due to other reasons. Conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes can contribute to hearing loss in adults too, especially amongst older people. Hearing loss in adults could either be inherited or acquired from illness, ototoxic drugs, loud noise, head injury, shock, or tumors. Let’s try and understand some of the medical conditions that could lead to hearing loss in adults.
Ototoxic (ear-damaging) medications
Medicines that are toxic to the sensory cells in your ears can cause ear damage. Ototoxic medicines damage the hearing ability and are a common cause for hearing loss. This is more so common amongst the older generation who consume these medicine on a regular basis. The common symptom is usually tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and vertigo. Commonly used drugs known to be ototoxic are:
- Aminoglycoside antibiotics (neomycin, streptomycin, or kanamycin)
- Loop diuretics (lasix or ethacrynic acid)
- Drugs used in chemotherapy
Menieres’s disease is a problem occurring in the inner ear that affects hearing ability of a person. Those suffering with Menieres’s disease often face a combination of sensorineural hearing loss, vertigo, tinnitus, and extreme sensitivity to loud noise. This disorder can, in some cases, cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. The cause of this disease is uncertain, but it could be associated with a fluid imbalance in the inner ear. Menieres’s Disease is treated with medicines and sometimes surgery.
Otosclerosis is an overgrowth of bone behind the eardrum (middle ear) in the inner ear. It can cause a conductive type of hearing loss. As the middle and inner ear do not function well in this case, a patient may develop severe hearing loss, sometimes leading to complete deafness. Symptoms include tinnitus and dizziness. Otosclerosis could be hereditary. The actual cause is not known. It usually occurs between the age of 11 and 30. Surgery can sometimes improve hearing loss caused by otosclerosis. Cochlear implants have been used successfully in patients with otosclerosis and have given excellent hearing results.
Acoustic Neuroma (Vestibular Schwanoma)
Acoustic neuroma is a non-cancerous growth –a kind of tumor on the auditory nerve near the cochlea. This is the place which sends auditory signals to the brain. An acoustic neuroma springs up slowly. However, it can cause hearing loss in the affected ear and impact other nerves or brain tissues once it starts growing.
Meningitis is a bacterial infection causing inflammation or swelling of the tissues overlaying the brain and spinal cord. Headache, neck stiffness, vomiting, altered consciousness, and difficulty in tolerating loud noises or light are the most common symptoms associated with meningitis. Serious complications could sometimes lead to complete deafness in this case.
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